Lack of workers dooms The Wellington Grille, owner says

BEAVERCREEK — Blame the inability to find enough workers as the prime reason for the closing of the Wellington Grill, which had served customers for 24 years.

Owner Mary Miller took a break from packing up Thursday to tell News Center 7′s Molly Koweek she isn’t ready to give up her business.

“I don’t want to sell it, I really don’t. But things you have to do you have to do.”

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Miller, 81, still works.

The problem, she told Koweek, is finding people half her age and younger who want to do the same.

“I like to work and most people I talk to like to work, and yet, no one come apply.”

Miller’s plight puts her and her business in a crisis club that segment of U.S. businesses work very hard to avoid.

The National Restaurant Association reports that full-service restaurant staffing levels are down approximately 11 percent of where they were before COVID.

“That is a crisis,” John Barker, Ohio Restaurant Association president and CEO told Koweek.

“There’s no other way to call it. You just cannot get restaurants to staff.”

According to the association, more than 3,150 restaurants in Ohio have closed since the pandemic began.

“In many cases what’s closing is these little mom and pops, these little independent restaurants that are on the corner of your neighborhood,” Barker said.

Despite her current status now as a former restaurant owner, Miller said she remains grateful for the decades of customers and the staff she has had over the years -- especially those workers she said stayed with her until the Wellington Grille’s last day.

“I really appreciate all the support,” she said. “That impressed me to no end. They told me ‘we’re not going until you go, until you’re gone.’ "

Miller, true to her attitude about working, said she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“As long as I can move,” she said.

What’s next for the Grille’s former home?

Koweek said an employee at Old Scratch Pizza told her that restaurant is the new tenant. No opening date has been announced, according to the employee.